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Sprint Technique Drills

There is no doubt that time spent on warming up and cooling down will improve an athlete's level of performance and accelerate the recovery process needed before training or competing again. An element of the warm up program should include event specific drills to stimulate the appropriate neuromuscular action for the range of movement and correct posture.

Drills should be conducted wearing trainers and not spikes. In all the drills, the coach/athlete should ensure a tall and relaxed posture with a correct range of movement of the arms. Check for

  • Eyes focused at the end of the lane - tunnel vision
  • Head in line with the spine - held high and square
  • Face relaxed - jelly jaw - no tension - mouth relaxed
  • Chin down, not out
  • Shoulders down (long neck) relaxed and square in the lane at all times
  • Back straight (not hunched)
  • Abdominals braced (not tummy pulled in)
  • Smooth forward backward action of the arms - not across the body - drive back with elbows - brush vest with elbows - hands move from shoulder height to hips for men and from bust height to hips for the ladies
  • Elbows held at 90 degrees at all times (angle between upper arm and lower arm)
  • Hands relaxed - fingers loosely curled - thumb uppermost
  • Hips remain stable during execution of drills

General sprint drills

The following are an example of general sprint drills.

Walking on Toes

  • Aims - develop balance and strengthen the lower leg muscles (reduce shin splints)
  • Amount - two repetitions over 20 to 30 metres
  • Action - walking on the balls of the feet - free leg to be lifted so that the thigh is parallel with the ground, lower leg vertical and the toes dorsi flexed (this end position can be held for a second or two to develop balance and a feel of the free leg position)

Walking on Heels

  • Aims - develop balance and strengthen the lower leg muscles (reduce shin splints)
  • Amount - two repetitions over 20 to 30 metres
  • Action - walking on the heels of the feet - free leg to be lifted so that the thigh is parallel with the ground, lower leg vertical and the toes dorsi flexed (this end position can be held for a second or two to develop balance and a feel of the free leg position)

Sprint Arm Action

  • Aims - develop shoulder muscle power and endurance
  • Amount - 10 to 20 seconds
  • Action - assume the lunge position, brace abdominals, maintain a straight back, fast sprint arm action

Leg Cycling

  • Aims - develop correct leg sprint action and strengthen hamstring muscles
  • Amount - 10 to 20 seconds on each leg
  • Action - stand next to a wall or rail that you can hold to maintain balance, stand tall, brace the abdominals, stand on the leg nearest the wall, lift the thigh of the other leg so it is parallel with the ground, the lower leg vertical and toes dorsiflexed, sweep the leg down and under your body, pull the heel up into the buttocks, cycle the leg though to the front, pull toes up, bring upper thigh through to be parallel with the ground, extend the lower leg and commence the next cycle

Leg drives

  • Aims - develop hip flexor strength and speed
  • Amount - 10 to 20 seconds for each leg
  • Action - stand facing a wall with your hands on the wall at chest height, position your feet so that the body is straight and at 45 degrees to the wall, keep you neck in line with your spine (head up), bring one leg up so the thigh is parallel with the ground, lower leg vertical and toes dorsiflexed (starting position), drive the foot down towards the ground, as the toes make contact with the ground, quickly pull the foot up and return the leg to its starting position

Butt Kicks

  • Aims - develop correct leg sprint action in the mid section following the drive off the rear leg
  • Amount - two repetitions over 20 to 30 metres
  • Action - fast leg movement on the balls of the feet - drive the knee up and bring the heel to the underside of the backside and the thigh parallel with the ground

Skips

  • Aims - to develop correct leg and foot action in preparation for the foot strike
  • Amount - two repetitions over 20 to 30 metres
  • Action - skipping on the balls of the feet - free leg to be lifted so that the thigh is parallel with the ground, lower leg vertical and the toes dorsi flexed

Side strides crossover

  • Aims - to increase flexibility and range of hip movement
  • Amount - two repetitions over 20 to 30 metres
  • Action - steady jog sideways on the balls of the feet - right leg across the front of left leg, left leg across the back of the right leg, right leg across the back of the left leg, left leg across the front of right leg and repeat this sequence.

Skip and clap

  • Aims - to increase flexibility and range of horizontal leg movement
  • Amount - two repetitions over 20 to 30 metres
  • Action - skip on the balls of the feet - bring the whole leg up so it is horizontal with the ground, toes dorsi flexed and at the same time clap the hands together under the leg. The arms then come back up to the side to form a crucifix.

Skip Claw

  • Aims - to develop the drive down action of the leading leg
  • Amount - two repetitions over 20 to 30 metres
  • Action - skip on the balls of the feet - bring the leg up so the thigh is at least horizontal with the ground, lower leg is vertical, toes dorsi flexed and then drive the foot down so that the ball of the foot strikes the ground below your hip

Skip for height

  • Aims - to develop rear leg drive
  • Amount - two repetitions over 20 to 30 metres
  • Action - skipping on the balls of the feet - emphasis is on the rear leg drive and drive back of the elbow - free leg to be lifted so that the thigh is parallel with the ground, lower leg vertical and the toes dorsi flexed

Plyometric work

Leg Plyometric drills can be include as appropriate e.g. single leg hopping, bounding, bunny hops, tuck jumps - one set of 5 to 10 repetitions (aim for quality not quantity)

Chest pass

  • Aims - develop shoulder and chest strength and speed
  • Amount - 10 to 20 seconds
  • Action - stand approximately 2 metres away and facing a wall, hold a light medicine ball (2-5kg) in your hands on its sides, knees relaxed, brace abdominals, keep back straight, push the ball powerfully away against the wall, meet the rebound with bent arms and hands ready to immediately push the ball back (do not catch then push back)

Speed Hops

  • Aims - develop reactive ability of your leg muscles
  • Amount - 10 to 20 seconds on each leg
  • Action - brace abdominals, keep back straight, look forward (not down), hop on the spot keeping the legs relatively straight (knees not locked), as the ball of the foot lands push explosively back up, minimise knee bend on landing

Speed Hops Leg Cycling

  • Aims - develop fast sprint leg cycling action - see Leg Cycling exercise above
  • Amount - 5 to hops on each leg
  • Action - brace abdominals, keep back straight, look forward (not down), hop forward on one leg, pull the heel up into the buttocks, cycle the leg though to the front, pull toes up, bring upper thigh through to be parallel with the ground, extend the lower leg and land on the ball of the foot, immediately explode back up and commence the next cycle

Run outs

  • Aims - to develop a tall, relaxed and smooth sprint action
  • Amount - six repetitions over 40 metres
  • Action - tip start and gradually build up of speed over the 40 metres - first two reps focus on a tall action, next two on tall and relaxed and the last two on tall, relaxed and smooth
  • Aims - to develop the elbow drive
  • Amount - three repetitions over 100 metres (60 metres effort + 40 metres run out)
  • Action - tip start and over the first 30 metres gradually build up the speed and a tall, relaxed and smooth action - at 30 metres gradually add elbow drive to reach full sprint speed at 50 metres - maintain the tall, relaxed, smooth and drive action to 60 metres - sprinting through the 60 metres point is essential - gradually slow down over the next 40 metres

Page Reference

The reference for this page is:

  • MACKENZIE, B. (2002) Sprint Drills [WWW] Available from: http://www.brianmac.co.uk/sprints/sprintdrills.htm [Accessed

Associated Pages

The following Sports Coach pages should be read in conjunction with this page:

Associated Books

The following books provide more information related to this topic:

  • Sprints and Relays, F. W. Dick
  • Sprinting and Hurdling, P. Warden
  • How to Teach Track Events, M. Arnold